Tuesday, July 31

Away Luggage Pops Up at Retail

If you travel at all or even just commute to work, it's likely impossible that you would miss the online luggage brand called Away. The transit advertising and social feeds are everywhere. At least in my travels and in my social feeds!

Impossible to miss, with lots of messaging that makes you want to partake. I do personally think it's important for your personal brand to look put together when you travel...enter Away.

Well now the online brand is going brick & mortar with a physical pop up store in Soho, New York City to bring consumers the full line. The popup is fun in that it replicates an airport experience...or should I say makes a positive airport experience outside of an airport!

The store is called Terminal A...not only can you can get lots of Away products but also get them customized too. It all starts with an Away passport! And away you go! The online experience is pretty cool too!

But only until August 5th, and then you're back online, travelers!

What's your experience? JIM

Monday, July 30

Dylan's Candy Bar at Williams Sonoma

The brand Dylan's Candy Bar is one smart brand. I've said it many times and I'm going to say it again. Smart brand.

The latest smart move is a collaboration with Williams Sonoma for a line of tabletop dishes and accessories.

Check out those candy plates! And cake stands. Fabulous. Makes you want to eat 'em! And eat candy! Dylan's Candy Bar candy!

Beyond! What's your experience? JIM

What a Week for Kit Kat!

The iconic Kit Kat brand has had a strange and unusual week.

On the one hand, the brand became a social media draw as it helped an "inexperienced" consumer propose to his girlfriend. The story goes that this young gentleman was outed by his girlfriend on social media for not eating a Kit Kat bar correctly. He didn't break the bars apart first before taking a bite.

His naivete went viral pretty quickly as he admitted that he'd never really had a bar before.

In a wonderful one-two punch, he then solicited the help of Kit Kat to create a 3-D printed version to use to hold an engagement ring so that he could ask his girlfriend to marry him. Awww.

Who doesn't love a love story? A love story with Kit Kat involved?!?

That's the good news. The bad news is that Kit Kat has been trying to defend its unique shape in Europe for over a decade claiming that the brand owns the distinctive bar shape. The European courts don't seem to agree, so their suit faced yet another setback.

The inability to trademark design elements isn't a new issue as many other brands have faced similar setbacks. Very few have been successful...Louboutin red sole shoes is just one brand on a very short list.

What do you think? Should Kit Kat be able to trademark their bar design?

What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, July 27

Perrier Has Flavors!

I saw this adorable little sponsored post pop up in my social feed that I couldn't ignore...I guess that's the point of these things popping up in our social feeds.

It wasn't for a new idea or an innovation breakthrough or even a brand new product. It was for Perrier. Perrier Flavors. Perrier has flavors!

Simple, fresh, intriguing ... and some good marketing! I honestly didn't know these existed before. Good marketing!

Not the first ever of its kind for sure. Just fun and refreshing.

What's your experience? JIM.

Thursday, July 26

New Reddi Whip Flavors

I personally think it's perfectly fine to observe successful trends in one category and apply it to another.

"Marketing is a spectator sport," after all.

That's exactly what the iconic Reddi Whip (non-dairy whipped topping) just did when introducing two new flavors...coconut and almond.

Coconut milk and almond milk are all the rage, as consumers seek plant-based alternatives to dairy. Just stop by a Starbucks if you need any proof of that.

So why not make these alternatives available in a whipped topping. Why not? Well, only if the consumer agrees and buys into it!

What could you apply from another category to your brand? What's your experience? JIM.

PS - I think this is the first time I've ever written about this heritage brand!

Tuesday, July 24

Dunkin' Donuts Has a New Look

Just recently I wrote about a new collaboration between Dunkin' Donuts and Harpoon Beer for what is perhaps the first ever coffee beer. Beer x coffee.

Well this new coffee beer isn't the only thing going on at this particular retail coffee giant. Dunkin' Donuts has a new look and feel in the making, and it's looking pretty fun and very familiar.

While the brand is sticking to its infamous logo and color scheme, it's dialing up the energy and bringing new life to its packaging.

Like the iced coffee:

And the donut sticks:

It's familiar because it totally leverages the logo and colors we've grown to expect from Dunkin' Donuts but brings a lightness and flair that we haven't necessarily seen before from the brand.

Dunkin' Donuts is also experimenting with a new concept store (first one near hometown Boston) that is lighter and brighter and more user friendly with a mobile order drive-thru.

Smart. Hallmark of a great brand...continual reinvention, even if it's subtle and incremental. Constant improvement contributes to ongoing brand loyalty. And keeps it fresh, just like the donuts.

Well done!  What's your experience? JIM.

Guess His & Hers

Fashion brand Guess just took a page out of pop culture and launched a new unisex collection of clothing...wardrobe basics that can be worn by any gender. We've seen gender fluidity in makeup a lot lately, so fashion is a likely source as well.

Introducing...Guess His & Hers.

There's lot of denim and lounge wear and t-shirts and jackets...and a lot of signature Guess sexiness too.

I'm betting this won't be the first fashion brand to go unisex...and in fact we're already seeing bits and pieces in the marketplace. Of course! Fashion both follows and inspires our pop culture! As does marketing.

What do you think? What's your experience? JIM

Sunday, July 22

Hello Fresh at Retail

Hello Fresh established itself as one of a few home meal solutions brands...as one of the first to deliver full meal kits to home cooks (home cooks who want to be home chefs but just don't have the time). The home meal kit was a brilliant solve for the busy foodie, and the category naturally took off. I myself have partaken!

Well now it appears that it's time to expand the momentum even further, in a surprisingly traditional way.

Hello Fresh just signed a deal with grocery retail holding group Ahold (aka Giant and Stop & Shop in the US) to make their home meal kits available at retail. Brick and mortar retail. So now you don't have to preorder the kits, you can just pick them up on the way home.

A pretty natural extension to the category, if you ask me. And perhaps a new reason to stop at the physical grocery story rather than ordering online.

Smart. Anything like this that you could do for your category? What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, July 20

Ted's Grooming Room

One of my favorite British fashion designers is Ted Baker, and in fact I don't even need to include British in that statement. One of my favorite fashion designers is Ted Baker. The men's line is to die for. Scratch that...to live for.

While visiting London, I stumbled upon a new addition to the Ted Baker retail experience...Ted's Grooming Room. It's a proper men's barber shop, with a full line of services available.

While visiting London, I stumbled upon a new addition to the Ted Baker retail experience...The Ted Baker Grooming Room. It's a proper men's barber shop, with a full line of services available.

The Grooming Room makes Ted Baker a full men's lifestyle brand, from head to toe. Literally.

Expanding the retail experience, and giving us a reason to visit in person rather than online. With 13 locations throughout London, I have to ask...when are you coming to NY? Asking for a friend.

What's your experience? JIM.

Thursday, July 19

Le Drugstore Parisien

In what looks to be a very strategic collaboration, France-based L'Oreal is teaming up with the French grocery retailer Casino to open up a new type of drugstore in Paris.

Le Drugstore Parisien.

Of course there will be medicines and beauty products like you'd expect in a French pharmacy, but also other services to attract those with a beauty-lifestyle mindset...dry cleaning, hair and makeup styling, shoe shining. And mobile charging stations.

For L'Oreal it's a chance to better compete against online retailers. For Casino, it's retail diversification away from solely focusing on food.

Like any good collaboration, it's a win win for both parties. And if the retail experience is improved as well, then shoppers will win too.

Will it translate outside of Paris? Will it expand to other markets? What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, July 18

Dunkin' Donuts Coffee Beer

Just last week I wrote about how Carvel ice cream teamed up with a craft brewery to mashup beer and ice cream...Fudgie the Beer.

Well now I've just read that Dunkin' Donuts is teaming up with fellow Boston-based brewery Harpoon to create a coffee beer. As with Fudgie the Beer, I guess if you love coffee and you love beer then it stands to reason that you'll love coffee beer.

Or as the label says, "Love Beer. Love Life." Indeed.

I guess America runs on beer...coffee beer. Partnerships and mash ups are a great way to create some excitement around a brand and promote new trial. Often, the more unusual the better.

Personally, I'm kinda eager to try it!

What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, July 17

The Airlines and the Supreme Court Nomination

I believe this is a first.

Well, not a complete and absolute first but a "first" nonetheless. We are seeing more and more brands take a stand on social issues. Gun control, immigration, marriage equality, women's rights...brands are speaking out on behalf of their values and on behalf of their consumer and employee interests.

We even saw a brand join a lawsuit against POTUS! That was certainly a first.

But even with all of that, I do believe that this is a first as well! Airline companies are speaking out against a government nomination. Actually it's their employees as union members who are speaking out against the proposed nomination for the open spot on The US Supreme Court. And as a result, they are in many ways representing their brands as well as themselves.

The two airlines' employees are from United and American. We also recently saw specific airline employees stand up against government policy, in that case it was about separating immigrant families.

I'm not commenting at all on the politics...that's not my bag. But I am observing the impact of employee sentiment, employee relations, and employee power on brand activity. That is clearly a series of firsts and perhaps a first of many more to come.

What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, July 16

La Boutique de Sophie

There are some things you just can't make up, and sometimes the Universe has a way of sending us signs.

Our family lost our beloved French Bulldog in 2014 after 12 years of a lovely life. To say that she was loved would be the understatement of the decade. If you're a dog owner and/or lover, then you know exactly what I am talking about!

Her name is Sophie. Our French Bulldog Sophie.

Since she died, we've been looking for the perfect malachite box for her ashes. We've looked high and low and each time they're either too big, or too small, or too expensive.

We were at the Paris Flea Market over the weekend, and stumbled into a store that had malachite boxes and found the perfect one at a perfect price! Perfect.

As we were walking out of the store, box in hand, we glanced up and noticed the name of the store.

La Boutique de Sophie.

You can't make this stuff up. The Universe sent us a message.

What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, July 13

Bulgari Ice Cream

This post piggy back from my recent post about fashion taking cues from every day food. Little did I know at the time that high-end fashion/jewelry brand Bulgari had launched an ice-cream inspired collection. 

It's stunning and unusual. High price point jewelry celebrating low price food life. Definitely on trend and likely to be in demand.

I scream, we all scream for...Bulgari.

What's your experience? JIM

PS - I was recently in Switzerland and experienced an "ice cream" hotel...the Movenpick. If you're not familiar, it's an ice cream brand that opened a hotel and serves (shockingly) ice cream every where you look! 

Wednesday, July 11

Starbucks Eliminates Plastic Straws

Starbucks announced that it's joining the global movement to reduce plastics that end up in our oceans. We use a staggering amount of straws each day...I've heard upwards of 100million straws a day in the US alone. Wow!

On many of it's iced drinks, Starbucks will now be using straw-less lids. For those drinks or those consumers who might still need a straw, Starbucks will use a non-plastic more environmentally friendly version.

It won't happen over night, but the company has a plan in place to take plastic straws out of their system.

As a marketer, I applaud. As a frequent consumer myself, I embrace. We all need to reduce our use of plastic, and evidently straws are a big part of the problem. I'm happy to reduce my use and I'm thrilled to see brands making it easier for me to do that.

Bravo! I'm sure others will be soon to follow.

What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, July 10

Fudgie the Beer

This just might be one of the most interesting (fascinating, unusual, uncommon) collaborations that I've ever seen.

If you know Carvel ice cream, then you know Fudgie the Whale. Fudgie the Whale is a classic ice cream cake from the 1970's that's still popular today. Iconic.

I mean, c'mon, Fudgie has a Wikipedia page.

Well Fudgie the Whale has partnered with Captain Lawrence Brewing Company (a micro-brewery) to create Fudgie the Beer. Beer combined with ice cream...Carvel fudge ice cream and classic Carvel chocolate crunchies.

Gosh, I remember loving those crunchies as a kid in Upstate New York!

Fudgie the Beer is only available at the brewery, and they've made a family affair out of it by also selling milkshakes from Carvel too.

Interesting (fascinating, unusual, uncommon).

What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, July 9

Fashion Inspired by Day-to-Day Food

Looks like high fashion is taking some inspiration from day-to-day food. QRS (quick service restaurant) food like.

Like this Hamburger Ring from Nadine Goshn, which retails for $8,800.

Not only does it form the perfect fast food burger, ala McDonald's to my naked eye, but each piece can also be worn separately. It's also available in a vegetarian version for $400 less. BTW, Nadine Goshn is based in the US but is of Lebanese/Brazilian decent. Super creative...she's also designed a pair of earrings titled "Bullshit."

And then there's the Coca-Cola line from Pinko, including this little bag that retails for about $250.
BTW, Pinko is an Italian fashion brand formed in the 1980s by the current CEO. Creative flair and quality are its core values. Obviously. 

But here's the point: when your brand is so engrained in pop culture that people are willing to wear it as fashion, then that's branding hitting an entirely new level. And when it's luxury fashion, then that's an entirely new level again.

What's your experience? JIM.

#WFH -- Work From Hawaii

Today's post riffs off my last post about working from Vermont...but now we're talking Hawaii!

The tourism board for Hawaii just gave new meaning to the acronym #WFH ... it's not "Work From Home" but instead "Work From Hawaii!"

Brilliant. Here's the website.

The Instagram campaign has awarded in-state (as in in-Hawaii) residencies to six New Yorkers who want to follow their passion from a seat on one of the six Hawaiian islands. For example, photographers could apply for a stint on Kauai or entrepreneurs on Lanai or recording artists on the Big Island, etc.

It's smart thinking. Many say that they're more productive when working out of the office and many also say that they spend vacation time following a hobby or interest (or a "passion point" as some say).  I say all in.

And I say it's pretty clever to turn around what is a pretty common term in pop culture and give it new and exciting meaning.

What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, July 6

$10,000 to Move to Vermont

Now this is kind of clever: in order to offset its relatively small and aging workforce, Vermont is giving out-of-state workers incentive to work remotely from Vermont. The state isn't asking folks to give up their jobs, just asking them to work from home in Vermont doing it.

The incentive? $10,000 in expense reimbursement over two years.

For a "brand" known for dairy, skiing, fall foliage, and a serene way of life, this is pretty clever and creative, if you ask me. Nice way to avoid the craziness of a big city yet still keep a lucrative job.

Giving a whole new meaning to "working remotely!"

What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, July 3

Johnson's Baby Shampoo Relaunch

It's never too late to reinvent...at least from a marketing perspective. And that's exactly what Johnson's Baby Products is doing with its core lineup including the 124 year-old Johnson's Baby Shampoo.

Reinvention is a the core of staying relevant. Continual reinvention is at the core of marketing success.

So Johnson's Baby is reinventing. Fewer ingredients. No dyes. No parabens. Packaging that's easier to use and recycle. All in response to consumer demand for making life, well, easier and less irritating shall we say.

All in response to sagging sales as consumers switch to alternatives. Smart move.

Johnson's Baby Products was one of my very first marketing assignments when I joined Johnson & Johnson after graduate school so many years ago. Perhaps you could say we've both reinvented along the way!

What's your experience? JIM.

Sunday, July 1

Domino's Paving for Pizza

We pretty much all know that Domino's is in the pizza delivery business. So rather than advertising that well known fact, the brand actually decided to fix a problem that gets in the way of said pizza delivery.

Potholes. It's called Domino's Paving for Pizza.

Domino's is handing out grants to twenty local cities to repair potholes. And then once the potholes are repaired, the patches are stenciled to give credit to the pizza brand. Pretty clever.

Athens, Georgia and Milford, Delaware are just two of the cities that have benefited so far. More to come. And since Domino's drivers rack up about twelve million miles of delivery service a year, I guess the brand is just taking some responsibility for fixing up the roads it travels on.

And it's not just delivery. Imagine all the pizzas that will be saved when people drive home with them as take-out! You can send Domino's a note identifying a pothole that needs to be fixed, and Domino's just might fix it!

I always say that brands should be adding value beyond just their product benefits. Domino's Paving for Pizza is a great example of adding value...making our streets safer. Not just for delivering pizza but for all uses.

Well done. 

What's your experience? JIM